The Overspecified Call

Happy Monday!

I hope you had a fabulous weekend.  Mine was full of laughs and tears, football and more football, excellent sermons, and friends.  Does it get any better?  I’ll have more to say on those things later but in the meantime I ‘ve been wanting to purge something that won’t leave my thoughts.  I’ve had calling on my mind as of late and a conversation with a dear sister reminded me once again of an utterly profound counsel that my husband gave me some time back.  Perhaps you are in the need for some profundity as well.  Or maybe you’ll just listen along while I talk to myself.

The counsel to which I am referring came one night as I was belly-aching about my teaching the youth and children at our church.  Put me in front of a group of women any day but being before a room full of glazed-over-sneaking-to-text-during-the-lesson teenagers or 40 rambunctious 2nd graders who must have eaten straight sugar for lunch will leave the most confident person (of which I am not) weak in the knees.  I was feeling particularly ineffective one week when I said to Luke, “It’s obvious these kids hate me and are getting nothing from me.  The problem is that I am operating outside the call.  I am supposed to be teaching women, not kids.”

In the way that only Luke can do and get away with it, he said, “That is the most ridiculously unbiblical thing I’ve ever heard.”  And then he asked a question, “What would you say is your gift and the thing you are called to do?”

Me:  “I guess teaching.”

Luke:  “Find me one place in scripture where it is specified that the one gifted to teach is given one age group in which to exercise that gift.”

Save for the Titus 2 reference of older women teaching the younger which is somewhat out of context for this conversation, I couldn’t think of a one.  Then Luke said, “Every single time you are given the opportunity to stand in front of a person and teach – irregardless of that person’s age – you are operating within the call.  Now stop your whining.”

Okay, he didn’t say that last part but he might as well have.

What he said is absolutely true and something that had never occurred to me until that moment. I am not at all saying there aren’t different groups to which we are drawn but what if the opportunity is not there to serve that singular segment of the population?  Even though I feel most drawn to teaching women, God has not given me my own church ladies but rather has opened the wide door of ministry in the direction of the kids.  It’s not what I would have chosen but I do my congregation a disservice to withhold my gift because I can’t use it in the precise manner I have determined.  (God has been gracious in still allowing me the opportunity to serve women outside my congregation but I personally do not believe He ever calls us to neglect our families of faith for the broader reach of ministry.)  If we aren’t careful, we can over-specify our call into oblivion and see our usefulness to the Body disappear right along with it.  Our gifts were never meant to be made irrelevant by our overly-sensitive inclinations.  And who knows, we may even discover we love the thing to which we previously only had an aversion.

I don’t know if this word means a thing to you but submitting to the truth of it has given me a fresh energy for being faithful in those opportunities to serve others whether or not the job matches my carefully defined parameters.  Don’t minimize a gaping hole of opportunity to a minuscule bulls-eye of preference and falsely assume the call is made void.

I pray this day finds you joyfully serving and realizing that as long as we are operating within the gift we are never operating outside the call.  The question is…are we operating at all?  Lord, when you return may you find faithfulness upon the earth and more specifically – in me.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject?